“Is there a Fourth of July in England? Yes or No.” Well…. YES!

this could be it

I was at an expat bbq picnic on Brighton beach yesterday. See, expats do things together – they make a point of finding each other and they do things like complain that you can’t find good zip-lock bags or canned Mexican chiles “in this country”. And we often laugh our asses off because we do really share something. We make fun of ourselves for being the loud, brassy ones, the ones that aren’t willing to squelch our personalities. And we all know who Oprah is.

And yesterday was July 4th and here we are in England and it had been originally pronounced that no one was to bring British food (it was frowned upon that Jennifer had brought Early Grey and lemon vodka) but we did compromise on allowing British sausages. Some of the significant others were born here, after all. There was some fantastic food and little in the way of cutlery. Laura got some tabbouleh in her mouth through some combination of gravity and eating kind of like a dog. And I met her only once before, and she claims to be shy. I do like that about Americans — we do what we have to do to get what we want and she wanted to eat tabbouleh. My favorite moment was when a smashingly fun woman from Houston (“God, I had to get out of there!”), who at one point admitted that at times she prefers animals to her grandkids, was having a hard time finding something to go with the Vodka. She had tried some mint tea but apparently that didn’t work. I got distracted speaking to someone else but out of the corner of my ear I heard someone say they’d brought CapriSun Juices for the kids and then I heard Sharon pipe up, “CapriSun … that could work as a mixer….”

The friends from London who were bringing the cutlery showed quite a few hours later. In fact, we had all finished eating and were making moves to leave and the crazy redhead of the London expats late gang said, “Don’t you people know you stay at the beach til sunset, at least to drink????” So we stayed and drank. A couple of the women sent their husbands and kids home and we drank and laughed and lit sparklers even though it was still daytime.

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The Owls Have It

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When we were kids, my brother gave me a stuffed animal owl for my birthday. “Cuz your smart,” he said.

Rather than smart, now they are cool and they are everywhere. They are “in,” or at least here in Brighton, UK they are. The fashion direction has shifted so that Owl is the New Skull (you must have noticed the skulls by now). I started to notice that owls were in vogue after a documentary I watched about the white barn owl this past March (see above). This gorgeous creature makes so little noise – pretty much statistically none – that their prey don’t stand a chance. These owls don’t even have to see their prey. They just know the little rodents are underneath the bush because… they have sonar? I don’t remember what the documentary said. But it was really cool.

After that I started to see them everywhere. I first noticed the owlian influence on clothing.

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tops

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bottoms

… then jewelry…..

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necks

and bags….

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… including the more casual shopping bag.

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Even bags at charity shops.

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i really should crop this photo but i am lazy

For hand-free wear there are backpacks!

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SIX out of the seven shown with flippin’ owls!!

Wallets…

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Once I started seeing them, I couldn’t stop. It was like they were stalking me.

Home store items….like pillows….

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…little tea plates (it is England after all).

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And outdoor stuff as well…

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I took all these photos in the course of a month. Still skeptical? Check this! Tweezers, makeup bag and cosmetic mirror. All in one “swoop” – SO TO SPEAK!

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Keychains!

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Thing-a-ma-jigs!

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these are those thingys that have a tiny solar panel so they move about when placed in sunlight. TWO FLIPPING KINDS OF OWLS!

Owls apparently even have advertising pull. Look at this poster for a late night life drawing class. Granted, late night has always been owl-associated but still. (P..S. Late night drawing class is odd, I know. Remember, I am in Brighton, one of the originators of The Naked Bike Ride.]

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naked lady on bottom right. in case you missed.

Advertising for suicide counsellors…

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I don’t get the lark part, either.

I was passing by a bookstore….

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Book of the month! Owls ARE  in fashion.

…then browsing inside the bookstore.

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Well, actually, “baby” anything is always in fashion.

Speaking of books, I went to see David Sedaris who’s on a book tour promoting his latest, “Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls“!

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Note the theme of the LADY’S BAG. FLIPPING EVERY-OWL-WHERE!

And in an unrelated incident, I created a Facebook event for a party:

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By the way, note the graduation hat – a callback to the owl=smart connection — yet still cool… it is after all, a party

Finally, let’s just take a look at a live one – one of my favorite videos. Did you know that they LIKE being PET? Watch this and you might want to take one home…

They are smart and cool AND cute! Better inspiration than a skeleton head, for crying out loud.

I have indeed been stalked by owls. And, perhaps not as quickly, but as quietly as the barn owl, the fashion world has seduced its prey.

David Sedaris Creates Everyday Aventure

I’ve been following his writing career for a good more than a decade. He’ll make me laugh — almost pee-in-the-pants laugh — and then suddenly, I have to catch my breath because he’s pondered a truth so poignant that it’s hard to breathe.

So when I find out he’s on a book tour (his fans are so numerous and devoted that he   reads in music auditoriums, not bookstores) and that one stop will be in Bexhill on Sea, an hours’ train ride, I know I’m going.

But the tickets sell out. In two days. 1500 seats to see a guy read.

Doesn’t matter. I take time off from my work-study job at Bikram in the Lanes and DECLARE I will find someone with an extra ticket to sell. I will WILL it to happen.

Wear my cutest outfit. (the guy’s as gay as a Christmas in Las Vegas but I want to dress up.) Train problems, we are diverted to Lewes. Tight on time. Shit! Oh well, whatever happens, happens. Let’s make the best of it. Make friends with a new philosophy grad from University of Brighton named Padraig Forham. Then an Indian man in a tuxedo complete with bow tie (he’s going to a “ball”!), named Abdul comes to sit with us and is forced to be friends with us. We play Twenty Questions about what’s Abdul’s job (Solicitor). By the time the train comes, jam-packs us in and starts moving, we rope in a Brit architect who regales us his adventures in Norway where he works a lot. (“Their language is a lot of sounds. Thank God they speak English.”)

And I think about how damn nice the Brits are.

We all part ways with some phone exchanges (the lawyer has a crush on the philosopher, pretty sure) and as I get out of the station of this new town, Bexhill on Sea, I start asking whoever is in ear’s length where the De La Warr Pavillion is because I’m going to see David Sedaris and I don’t have a ticket.

“I have an extra ticket!,” pipes up the most fabulous person is the world because she has an extra ticket to David Sedaris.

My eyes pop open, I ask her name, she tells me Leah and I hug her and tell her I love her! We scurry over to the venue — THERE’S NO ONE SELLING A TICKET OUTSIDE! LEAH ROCKS! — and that’s when I see Him. He’s sitting at a table, signing a book and chatting with a fan. He’s famous for staying hours and hours signing books and chatting with people. But this is BEFORE the show!  It’s nearly time however, so we buy drinks (when in Rome… and when in England), get to our seats and I send an email to my buddy, Lynn in San Francisco, that I got in.

He comes out wearing shorts and says, “I’m wearing shorts.” He chats with us, reads one amazing story after another, drinks a lot of water. I think it was four stories and then diary entries. He tells us little bits in between. He’s so genuine — he has an unusual, some might say odd or even eccentric way of looking at the world but his DNA is just genuine. And damn funny.

But who cares, right? Why am I writing this? Why might anyone care to read this blog post. I don’t know. But I haven’t written in a long time because life has been rough, rough, rough and — I don’t know — because I was downhearted, depressed, lonely, have gone through moments where I was actually feeling like life wasn’t worth living. I’ve had moments of true sadness alongside moments of joy when I could see that Brighton is a fantastic place to be! A very emotional time and I haven’t written any of it down. And maybe if even one of my 22 bog followers is still reading and thinking, Shit This is Boring — I DON’T CARE. And I have been caring way too much about what other people think and somehow watching a man tell a story about how how he fed his tumour (benign) to an elderly snapping turtle in a canal in South Carolina, made me not care very much about what others think. Because life is just so utterly delightful and beautiful even in the tiniest details.

That’s all.

Talking Tits

Bit redundant, no? Aren't all tits great?

Bit redundant, no? Aren’t all tits great?

Here in England, people are into their gardens and birds! It’s not that I’ve never been into birds, it’s just that there are so many. I find it a bit overwhelming. So let’s just talk about tits. Gonna use Wikipedia to learn about tits.

According to Wikipedia, “tits can be found in most of Europe, Asia, North America and Africa.” No tits in Australia or Greenland? What’s their definition of tits, I wonder. Are they calling them something else if they’re too small? Ok, let’s move on.

Wiki adds, “Tits are generally insectivores that consume a wide range of small insects and other invertebrates, particularly small defoliating caterpillars.” Tits eat insects! Who knew!  So it’s not just men that the quickest way is through the stomache! Science is fascinating.

“Tits have a variety of methods for attracting mates, primarily through their intricate, bouncing mating dance,” the article goes on to say. So tits bounce to attract attention. That isn’t entirely surprising. They are pretty lively.

According to Wikipedia: “Many African tit species are cooperative breeders.” Seems to me that all tits cooperate with breeding.

One last interesting bit about tits: “Only the blue tit is typically polygynous: all other species are generally monogamous.”

Slut

Slut

I live to learn and I think I speak for you all.

p.s. needed a bit of silly outrageous fun today, what with writing/sending academic cv’s all week. job hunting is a blast — so not!

 

 

 

 

On Hippies, Hoops and Happiness

hula-hooping

In keeping with my this year’s mantra (see previous post), “Take Care of Your (effing) Self” I signed up for a hula hoop class. Or, a-hem, for those of us “in the know”, Hoop class.

You cannot imagine how much fun it is. Or what damn exercise. I do feel a six-pack a-coming! Well,let’s not exaggerate. Maybe one can.

And it is SO NOT just about swinging that colourful circle of plastic around your middle. Oh no, my friends. There are tricks galore. None of which I can truly yet do, still working on swinging that colourful circle of plastic around my middle. However, check out Edo from Cyprus:

I met Edo at a drop-in circus tricks practice (hoop, poi, swords, tight-rope!!). I was happy just keeping my colourful circle of plastic swinging somewhere around my middle and there’s this blue-haired hippie with matching blue sweatshirt so to start a conversation I said, “So do you change the color of you hair everytime you change your top?” He gave me a shy smile and could barely look me in the eye.

He’s from Cyrpus and moved to Brighton one week before.

“I was the only person on the island who hooped.”

How did he learn?

“Youtube!!”

Brighton has a very established, “hooping community.” (OMIGOD I LOVE LIVING SOMEWHERE THAT HAS ANY FLIPPING KIND OF HOOPING COMMUNITY!!!!). So I asked him if that was why he moved to Brighton:

“Well,” the blue-haired 60s Cypriot throwback responded, “that’s one of the reasons.”

Then there’s Nick. He is one of the organisers of CircusSeen and he oversees these Friday evening open practices (what do YOU do on friday night???). Check him out in the video below! I have never even seen those little do-dads that he’s playing with!! They’re called something like Figure Eight Whatchamacallits. Ok so I don’t remember the name. But when you see them. you ain’t gonna forget them!

These colorful characters with their piercings and hanging pants and dreadlocks and tie-dyes were so kind and sweet and HAPPY.

And that’s what I needed… Hippies, Hoops and Happiness.

Mantras Not Resolutions

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Every year I take on a “mantra.”

Instead of a long list of resolutions that are destined to fail (I’m gonna lose 10 pounds, eat healthier and stop stalking the cute guy on the bus), I focus on a slogan, a guiding principle — in short, a mantra. In years past, I had “Slow (the F) Down” or “Get It (G-ddamn) Done.” (The words in parentheses are just for my thoughts. There’s something fun yet firm about a well-placed expletive. I didn’t tell other people about those words. Until now, that is.)

Sometimes the mantra was silly: “Be Like a Duck and Let Things Slide Off Your Back.” (That was less successful — too long. I forgot most of it by March instead just remembering the “Be Like a Duck” part with not very pretty consequences.)

finally learned how to swim at least

At least I finally learned to swim.

One year was a bit unseemly: “Get Rid of the Old (Crusty) Underwear.” Meaning, stop hanging on to shit you don’t need: crappy stuff goes in the garbage and crappy friends — show them the door! (Please recall: words in parens — here, “Crusty” — are for my thoughts only. I wouldn’t tell that to people. Well, like I said, until now.)

And the rule is: it needs to be an affirmative statement. It’s something you DO want to do. No negatives in the sentence — no “Don’t Be Mean” or “Quit Complaining.” Turn those into “Smile at Everyone” and “Appreciate the World.” The Lady in Pink makes this clear:

a better slogan (mantra) would be... well, actually Take Care of Yourself!

A better slogan (mantra) might be Keep It Healthy!

And the second rule is, I don’t think about the picking of The Mantra too much, I just sort of “discover” it. Let it come to me.

However, this year for Xmas/New Year’s, I was in my mom’s tiny home town in southern Italy — a place not known for keeping up with the times.

At 5pm after siesta, the men gather in the piazza to hang out, smoke play cards and talk about who'd dies recently.

At 5pm after siesta, the men gather in the piazza to hang out, smoke play cards and talk about who’s died recently.

And so, I was overloaded on too many kissing-my-cheeks-twice relatives, bored by the constant hum of bad Italian television and screaming conversation (that’s just how they talk) and over-indulged in amazing food. It broke my brain. The mantra was not only undiscovered but completely forgotten.

Until…. I got a message from a friend I adore and haven’t seen in years. She wrote, “So what’s your Mantra for 2015? I LOVE that you do that!” I didn’t even know she knew about my quirky mantra thing. At the VERY moment that the message came, I’d been feeling bad about eating pasta for both lunch and dinner and it just came to me: “Take Care of Yourself” (I might need to adjust that to “Take Care of Yourself (Asshole).” )

Silliness aside, a mantra is more powerful rather than a list of resolutions that you HAVE TO do. Because those remind you of your failures, whereas, a Mantra reminds you of who you declare yourself to be. Who you are is who you SAY you are. Train your brain to be your best self.

Wonder-Woman-Flying

Wonder Woman and the Golden Lasso of Truth! She’s cool, she cares and she obviously takes care of herself! What might her mantra be?

Ok so… pick a mantra, from the list below and/or write in comments and then TAKE IT (THE F) ON!!!!!

 

 

Gay is the New Straight

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I was watching a great Ted talk given by a terribly bright, terribly funny gay man who designs book covers. First he was talking about one author, then another, both of whom are also gay. And I suddenly felt like Joan Cusack in that scene from the classic 1997 comedy In & Out — when she’s still in her wedding dress, having been dumped at the altar by Kevin Kline (who in the nick of time realises he’s gay) — and so Joan Cusack goes to a bar, still in her damn white dress and a bit tipsy (and very horny), and she hits on Tom Selleck who informs her he’s gay as well. She then runs out of the bar and screams: “IS EVERYBODY GAY? AM I IN THE TWILIGHT ZONE! I NEED A HETEROSEXUAL CODE RED!”

Here she is, Joan Cusack, in one of the funniest performances ever EVER EVER:

Anyway, that’s kinda how I’m feeling right now.

 

 

When You Have A Blog, Everything is Interesting

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The Shoreline “Restaurant” – Worthing Hospital (clockwise from top left: yellow “jelly,” scone, hot chocolate, 2 thingys of butter, “creamy” hot chocolate, and “cutlery” (i like the brit fancy words 😉

I met my new friend, Harri (“a bird?” my roommate Tom later asked me), at the Worthing pier. She asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital. There’s a cafe there. And I thought, my God, these people have cafes everywhere. Bookstores, yes of course, but clothing shops and supermarkets for crying out loud. Even opticians. Don’t believe me? Look!

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Anyway, we went to the “Shoreline Restaurant Cafe” at the Worthing hospital, chatted and had our snack (see yellow jelly and scone photo above) and when I went to take the photo of our hospital tray complete with hospital food, Harri said, “When you have a blog, everything is interesting.”

We then went to the Burlington Pub to see if they have a room where we, The Rogue Players could do a monthly sketch/comedy/singing show thingy.

A friend of Harri’s was there – an old dude named Eddie and he entertained us. In his younger days, Eddie was a porn star. Or so he says. He also says he was married to Miss Sweden 1971 for eight years. Here he is:

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He kept calling me Grand Canyon because he couldn’t remember Terianne. I think it’s a reference to my being American and not a pornographic reference but I guess I’ll never know.

I googled Miss Sweden 1971. Not so easy to find. But this might be her:

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Hallelujah! Hallelujah! We have a table, We have a table! Hallelujah….

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that’s a table under there!!!

To the tune of Hallelujah, please:

“We haaaaaave a table, we haaaaaave a table,
We have a table, a table
We haaaave a taaa-a-a-ble!”

Here, we’ll show you:

As I’ve expressed here and here, it’s a sad day when one does not have a table. And now I sit here AT THE TABLE with my cappuccino. (Moving to England ain’t changing that, oh no, nuh-uh — got me a mokka, a foam maker and I am ready to go to Timbuktu if needs be. Don’t try to come between me and my cappuccino.)

The landlord finally borrowed a table from his brother. I think he broke down after seeing us night after night cracking our backs and stretching our necks in the middle of dinner on the living room floor. We would sit hunched over, legs splayed in a V trying to scoop up salad from a plate set in-between our knees, constantly dropping green bits from our mouths. After dinner one night Frank said he had to work hard not to laugh because I looked like the Beast from Beauty and the Beast trying to eat normally. Visual aid below! Go to 0:27.

(Ignore dude speaking in Italian at beginning. No idea what that’s about.)

But Beast I am no more! Hallelujah!

We now have a table but — of course — no placement mats. So for today’s substitute, I’ve picked the “Money” section of the Sunday Times (no, dear New Yorkers, not the New York Times). Headlines include:

“Why it may still be better to give birth in Scandanavia”

“I donated some boots to a charity sale… and bought them back for £15,000”

And complete with a photo with the consigliere whispering into the ear of Marlon Brando as The Godfather, there’s the heading:

“Our savings won’t sleep with the fishes!”

Who says the Brits are so reserved? Drama and sensation amuck at least in the Money section.

 

Cheers, Me and Josh

The British do some very cute things: they say “Cheers” instead of “Thanks,” they say “me” instead of “my” – “Gotta call me dad,” and they add those darling question tags at the end of all their sentences — “Nice day, isn’t it?”, “Got meself pissed last night, didn’t I?”

But the cutest of the cute is that they name their houses. I noticed when I visited my friend, Alice. Alice lives in The Garden Flat, and it’s even included on her formal address.

Alice HerLastNameNobodysBusiness
The Garden Flat
2 Cambridge Street
Tunbridge Wells TN3 4SQ

I mean, besides plantations (Scartlett’s Tara from Gone with the Wind), and some holiday homes in Cape Cod and the like (Seascape, Sea le Vie, Vitamin “Sea” etc)  Americans don’t name their houses.

Here are some examples of British home names:

sometimes it’s food related —
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sometimes a posh name —
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then of course, there’s the royalty angle — IMG_5521

Thus, we decided to name our house, too.
We have called it Josh.
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